[b-hebrew] Hebrew and the Elements of Language

JAMES CHRISTIAN READ JCR128 at student.anglia.ac.uk
Wed Aug 22 14:02:41 EDT 2007

The following is a very short consideration of what the 
real 'elements' of language are with consideration to 
what they may be in Biblical Hebrew.

The following link, http://www.lamie.org/lad-sim.doc , 
links to an article detailing a very small proportion
(university imposed word limits) of the work I have
done on research on cognitive development and its 
implications for first language acquisition and its 
computer simulation.

In summary, our language acquisition device (LAD) is 
merely an extension of our cognitive system and the 
things we say are merely the communication of cognitive 
events e.g. Sarah went to the shop (something that can 
be witnessed or imagined) Yhwh will destroy his enemies 
(something that can be imagined and in the future 
perhaps even witnessed by those that survive to see it)

It takes us so long to start producing our first words 
because there is a whole bunch of cognitive 
developments that needs to happen first in order for us 
to have a database of cognitive events upon which to 
hang meaning of words.

Nelson (1973) analysed the first 50 words produced by children and allocated them into six categories along with their percentages:

1.	Specific nominals - 14% - (names for unique objects, people or animals)
2.	General nominals - 51% - (names for classes of objects, people or animals ‘ball’, ‘car’, ‘milk’, ‘doggie’, ‘girl’, ‘he’, ‘that’)
3.	Action words - 13% - (describe or accompany actions ‘look’)
4.	Modifiers - 9% - (refer to properties or qualities of things ‘small’, ‘big’, ‘pink’, ‘green’, ‘yours’, ‘mine’)
5.	Personal-social words - 8% - (express child’s feelings ‘ow’, ‘please’, ‘want’, ‘no’, ‘yes’)
6.	Function words - 4% - (have only a grammatical function ‘what’, ‘is’, ‘to’, ‘for’)

Children’s words are the same in every language: parents, brothers & sisters, pets, toys, clothes and food (Schaffer, 2004).

Is it a coincidence that first words learned in every 
language are predominantly labels for objects (animate 
or inanimate)? I don't feel it is. My feelings are that 
languages are object oriented in the sense that they 
exist to communicate the interactions between objects 
(what the subject is doing/going to do/has done to the 
object). Adjectives are merely direct extensions of the 
noun, describing the noun in finer detail. Verbs also 
are extensions of the noun describing what the noun is 
doing/is going to do/has done and in the case of 
transitive verbs the verb is joining nouns together by 
their relationship of the action of the subject/s on 
the object/s. The adverb is merely an extension of the 
verb describing in more detail the nuances of the 
interaction between the subjects and objects (slowly, 
quickly, harshly etc.) Prepositions largely proceed the 
location of the interaction (on the table, 
in the street, under the chair) and in many languages 
are reduced to a mere locative case. And so, languages 
can largely be reduced into objects (with their 
descriptive adjectives, descriptions of their actions 
(verbs + adverbs) and their locations (prepositions +  
locations). These objects can further be reduced into 
our cognitive experiences of the behaviour and 
attributes of those objects and so the theory I 
propose for the elements of language (including Hebrew) 
are basically objects (along with their descriptions, 
descriptions of actions and descriptions of locations).

Using these elements we can make combinations to make 
more complex concepts. Take for example the concepts of 
'ash' and 'tray' which we all subjectively understand
according to our own individual experiences with 
objects we consider to be 'ash' and objects we consider 
to be 'tray'. Combining these concepts we can coin the 
term 'ashtray' and envision a tray for collecting ash. 
Our individual understanding of 'ashtray' will be 
moulded and shaped by our individual cognitive 
experiences with objects we consider to be 'ashtrays' 
and we hope that by coincidence of having similar 
cognitive experiences that when I talk about ashtrays 
your cognitive understanding of an 'ashtray' coincides 
enough with my cognitive understanding of an 'ashtray' 
such that we can communicate by a commonly understood 

According to this cognitively based theory of elements 
of language I would suggest that the fundamental 
elements of the Hebrew language can be found by 
making note of the most common names of objects to be 
found in the first column of my n-gram frequency tables 
of the Aleppo Codex which can be found here:


A quick scan of this first column shows that the most 
fundamental elements of the Hebrew language are Yhwh,  
Isreal, [the] sons of [Isreal], [the] king [of Isreal] 

Any thoughts?

James Christian Read
BSc Computer Science 
thesis1: concept driven machine translation using the Aleppo codex
http://www.lamie.org/hebrew (thesis1 and resources)
thesis2: language acquisition simulation
http://www.lamie.org/lad-sim.doc (thesis2)

Any thoughts?

James Christian Read
BSc Computer Science 
thesis1: concept driven machine translation using the Aleppo codex
http://www.lamie.org/hebrew (thesis1 and resources)

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